GENEVA – Some of the estimated 1,000 sailors stranded in Ukraine have fled, International Labor Organization (ILO) and industry officials told Reuters, while expressing concern for others stranded or unaccounted for.
Several foreign cargo ships have been hit by crossfire in Ukraine since Russia’s aggression began on February 24, and UN agencies have called for urgent action to protect about 1,000 seafarers, including the besieged port city of Mariupol, which has been under bombardment for weeks. Read the full story
An estimated 100 ships have been barred from leaving because of the risk of sea mines flowing, industry sources said.
Fabrizio Barcelona, coordinator of the maritime division of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), said sailors from India, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, the Philippines and Bangladesh, as well as at least 20 countries, including Ukraine, had a “huge share”. And traveled overland to Russia, Poland and Romania.
He quoted Philippine government sources as saying that Philippine sailors had left. The Philippine Ministry of Labor says 371 people have been repatriated, 68 have started working outside Ukraine and about 15 remain.
“A small number (approximately 1,000) are trapped by the ongoing threat of a possible military crossfire and are unable to return to the country,” Barcelona said.
An ILO spokesman said in an email that some sailors were still trapped in their ship, in a shell fire, without elaborating. Others were deported, some of whom were deported, others under the protection of the Ukrainian army.
Russia said on Wednesday it had taken control of the Mariupol trade port and freed the ships from being held hostage. Read the full story
A letter to the members of the International Maritime Organization on 11 April was leaked by Dominica Maritime authorities stating that the ship that sank in Mariupol this month had been told that the crew was hiding in other ships “in extreme fear and distress”.
Barcelona says the ITF, which represents about 200 maritime unions, is trying to establish a “blue corridor” or safe passage, but this has been impossible due to mining.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called on the parties to the conflict to allow civilians, including commercial crews, to leave and said it would raise the issue with the authorities. – Reuters